WSVN — This sounds simple: you own a condo that comes with a parking space. You don’t owe the association any money and then they block you from using your space. One family says it’s crazy. Howard says it’s illegal. But can an association get away with it? Let’s bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
If you are looking for the typical, sweet Hispanic grandmother, meet Luisa Suarez.
Elizabeth Hernandez: “She cooks for everybody. She helps everybody out. She is a very nice person.”
Luisa is 87 and, of course, at her age, not getting around as well as she used to.
Luisa Suarez: “I have fallen two times from the stairs and here, I need to touch the walls to see.”
Luisa is now going to have cataract surgery. Elizabeth’s husband is Luisa’s son. So they moved from their rental unit a few doors down into Luisa’s condo to care of her. And that’s when the trouble started.
Elizabeth Hernandez: “He is denying her the right to park her car in her parking space.”
Luisa has owned her condo with a parking space for 27 years. Today, her car is in both her name and Elizabeth’s name so Elizabeth can drive her around.
Elizabeth Hernandez: “We take her to her groceries. We take her to optometrist. We take her to her doctor’s appointments. We take her everywhere.”
The property manager would only let them use Luisa’s parking space if Elizabeth and her husband paid $400 for a background check even though they have lived in the complex for seven years. He also wanted Luisa’s son to sign a lease to live with his mother.
Elizabeth Hernandez: “And I think it’s ridiculous. We are not leasing the property. We are not renting the property. We are just here to take care of her through this time.”
The condo documents say the association and their property manager can’t block Luisa from using her parking space. So Elizabeth parked it and…
Elizabeth Hernandez: “They towed my car.”
Elizabeth now parks the car a couple of blocks away, leaving them frustrated and fuming.
Luisa Suarez: “I don’t know why he keeps denying me to park when the car is under my name.”
Howard, can an association and their property manager stop you from parking in your own space?
Howard Finkelstein: “No they cannot. Luisa has paid all her fees, but even if she had not, an association and property manager cannot interfere with what the law calls ‘ingress and egress.’ In other words, they cannot stop you from parking your parking space and cannot stop you from coming and going into your property. If they do, it’s illegal.”
We wanted to talk to the property manager, for Mor-Value Management, Miguel Rueda. He didn’t return calls. When we stopped by, he wouldn’t explain why he was doing what he was doing. The only thing he would tell us was to go away.
Miguel Rueda: “Because this is private property, you understand that.”
Patrick Fraser: “If you ask me to leave, I will leave.”
Miguel Rueda: “Yeah.”
That’s when attorney Duane Baum offered to step in and help for free.
Duane Baum: “I have a grandmother, so I’m very sensitive to issues that involve older age.”
Baum tried to work with the Countryside Village Association and their property manager. They wouldn’t budge.
Duane Buam: “I feel the association — most importantly they are violating the Florida statues which govern condominiums. They are also violating their condominium documents. We have reached out to the attorney for the association. Basically, they are not really moving their ground.”
Baum will now move forward. First before an arbitrator and if it’s not resolved, go to trial because Elizabeth says they are determined to help Luisa and not are giving up.
Elizabeth Hernandez: “I’m not going to move out. I’m going to fight this to the end because he cannot deny her her right. He cannot deny it.”
Patrick Fraser: “Why are the property manager and association apparently ignoring the law and doing this. Well, they won’t talk to us so we cant be sure. But they will have to talk in court. And if they lose, even though Duane Baum has offered to help Luisa for free, a judge could force the association to pay the legal fees he normally wold have gotten. Common sense tells you, back off and let Luisa use her parking space.”
An association with a problem driving you batty? Want to park it with us? Pull up. We will help you properly manage the situation.
With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser 7News.
CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at email@example.com